A mobility experiment in Aviapolis tackles last-mile connectivity problem

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FINLAND: City of Vantaa and the Finnish Transport Agency has funded a mobility experiment to improve last-mile connectivity in the Aviapolis area near Helsinki Airport.

The Aviapolis is the fastest growing international employment area in the Helsinki metropolitan region with good public transport services thanks to the Ring Rail Line that has opened just over a year ago. However, a new challenge has emerged with many of the 35,000 jobs in the area not being located right next to Aviapolis station.

“After the opening of the Ring Rail Line, many people living and working near Aviapolis contacted us. Although it is already easily accessible by public transport, we wanted to make it even easier to travel within the area,” Arja Luukki, the Vantaa City Project Manager for Aviapolis said.

The City of Vantaa and Helsinki Business Hub have selected two services to tackle the problem: a shared-taxi company Vedia and car-sharing service go now! The pilot funded by the City of Vantaa and the Finnish Transport Agency will run from September 2016 until the end of the year.

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The operator of the Ring Rail Line, HSL has joined the project looking for ways to attract new users to public transport.

“We have a positive approach to commercial transport services that support HSL’s route network and the transport system, and that can provide solutions to the last mile problem,” Kimmo Sinisalo, HSL Contract Manager said.

Under the project, transport service providers can sign a partnership agreement with HSL that allows their services to be included into HSL’s loyalty scheme.

Now people can use a shared taxi to get from Aviapolis station on the Ring Rail Line to their workplaces. The operating principle of Vedia taxi is simple. A mobile application combines the journeys of people going in the same direction, reducing the cost of the taxi ride for each individual passenger by up to 60%. For example, a ride from Aviapolis station to the Äyritie employment area costs about €3.40/person, if four people share the ride. The mobile application automatically charges the share of each passenger to their credit cards.

Go now! is a pay-per-minute car-sharing service now also available in the Aviapolis area. The service is available via a smart phone application around the clock. The eco-efficient hybrid cars of the service are available for use in Helsinki and Vantaa. The users do not need to worry about fuel or parking costs; all of that is included in the price. The mobile app shows the availability of cars in the different locations and cars can be easily picked up using the app.

“Go now! is a great complement to public transport. For example, you can pick up a car in Aviapolis outside your office and drive to a meeting in Helsinki. The journey costs about 20 euros. The prices of journeys within Vantaa start from a few euros. Up to five people can ride for the same price,” Matti Hänninen, the CEO of 24 Rental Network said.

According to the Minister of Transport and Communications, new mobility services need to be easy to use, flexible and developed through wide-ranging cooperation.

“Aviapolis and its partners are an excellent example of how to respond to user needs through broad-minded cooperation between the private sector and public transport authorities,” the Minister said.

“In addition we need to look into the legislations, which must respond to the needs of consumers and service providers. The Transport Code project aims to create an operating environment in which technology, facilities and separate modes of transport no longer pose unnecessary barriers to users and companies.”

Helsinki Business Hub, a regional development agency funded by the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen as well as the Uusimaa Regional Council, has been involved in the pilot from the outset.

“Last year, together with the City of Vantaa, we started to look for new ways of finding new transport services for the area. Our role has mainly been to provide our expertise in intelligent transport and market knowledge to complement the industry knowledge of the City of Vantaa. Aviapolis is an extremely interesting area because of its rapid growth,” says Mr Tommi Rimpiläinen, senior business advisor at Helsinki Business Hub.

The planning of the pilot started at the end of 2015. At first, market dialogue was used to survey the various mobility service solutions available. Some ten possible operating models were identified. The City Council of Vantaa made the final decision on the services selected on 15 August 2016. The Finnish Transport Agency has funded the project with €50,000, while the City of Vantaa has granted €17,000.

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